31 January 13 | Kaija Straumanis | Comments

I’d like to talk a bit about submissions.

Because I’ve had a very stressful and involved week of cataloging, catching up with, and responding to every single submission Open Letter has received since essentially July of last year, I’m a little on the edge right now when it comes to submitters repeatedly asking about their translation samples. And by on edge I mean I had a few minutes of snapping this morning, and thus decided that a nice, public rant about the whole submission process was wholly appropriate. And by appropriate I mean god damn necessary.

The ideal situation would be for people who submit to our press, or to any other press, to understand a little something about the process behind it and how the world does not revolve entirely around their samples. It’s so much more than one person with a questionable fashion sense and a warm carton of orange juice sitting in a back room with stacks upon stacks of “slush pile” material to sort through. At least for us it is.

Open Letter is not unlike many small, independent presses in that we are, essentially, a three-person operation (this not including semester- or summer-long interns). As editor, it falls into MY duties to receive every single submission sent to Open Letter. It doesn’t matter if you address an email or envelope to Chad, or to Nate, because it’s all going to end up on my desk and in my inbox. And I get to look at every single one of them. And because I am, surprisingly, a polite and considerate person by nature, I reply to every. Single. One of them. And because I am, surprisingly, just ONE person, it’s going to take me a while to get back to every query.

So, first and foremost, if you’ve ever submitted—not just to us, but to any press—and have yet to receive a reply to your query: BACK. OFF. Seriously. Take 20 deep breaths, count to 10, go for a walk, make yourself a sandwich, a tasty one. But honestly, please just back off. We’re working on it.


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This Life by Karel Schoeman
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Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .

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